Monday, December 05, 2005

Naween's WSC 2005 Games Summary Report

(Naween Fernando, an Accountant by profession from Sri Lanka, now living in Australia, a four-time Gulf Champion, five-time Bahrain Champion, winner of Channel News Asia 1999, Australian Champion 1995, competed in six World Championships from 1999-2005, and so much more narrates his experience in WSC 2005. Learn from the Master...)

Day 1

Nov 17th - After the customary directions from Wilma and a few queries
from the players and finding out that the tile bags were transparent
(hence the use of multiple tilebags to hold the tiles) it was time to
play. WSC 2005 was now in progress.

Game 1- Brett Smitheram

I got an early lead thanks to ZO for 67 and AEDILES for 72 kept me
comfortably ahead. Mid way through the game I chickened out of AEGRRSV
(1) to extend the lead. Brett got a late bingo of ENTRESOL for 68 but
wasn't quite enough to seriously threaten. Won 432 -357

Game 2 - Adeeb Ahmad

I got an early bingo of NITRIDES but I thought I was in trouble after
being hit with TORDIONS for 59 and CRADLED for 77 consecutively and
was down 174-232. Not to worry as Adeeb had a string of words
challenged off including the plausible RECARIN(G)*. I was pleased to
spot WHATNA and a late bingo of GASOLINE won me 483-313.

Game 3 - Pete Finley

I had a first rack of AGONSSU. What would you do? After some thinking
I put down GUANOS for 18. Next go I was lucky to pick up OUDIE? and
settled for bEDOUINS - I had a few possible bingos. I was cursing my
luck when Peter played the lovely bATHROOM for 90 through my blank - doh!

TREADER for 64 in the mid game helped me catch up but Pete was still
ahead having just played NIX for 56. I should have played TREADER + R
(2) which was much better defensively. Picking up the last blank and
managing to keep the board open helped me get down VENTaILE and my
endgame didn't let me down - this time :) Won 422-405.

Game 4 - Andrew Fisher

I first met Andrew way back in 1992 when he organised a tournament in
Wilmslow in the UK - thankfully he didn't play and I finished 2nd in
that tournament. I've come a fair way since then & I've always had to
play Andrew in almost every major tournament we've played together
over the last 5-6 years so this was just another game for us. I began
with a dream play of JuGLETS for 94 but Andrew immediately responded
with MOUTHIER for 74. I spent about 5 minutes with a rack of AFNRSTU
trying to conjure something up but there are no bonuses available.

Andrew replies on move 3 with IMAGOEs and I counter immediately with
HADRONS. HARDNOSE through an E scores slightly more but I prefer
HADRONS on a board with a few triple lanes open. From a rack of
AEKNPRS, I am not aware that it plays through an L (3). Luckily for me
I manage to get TR(A)INERS and a late REALLOT. Won 493-430.

Game 5 - Ganesh Asirvatham

Ganesh is rated higher than Nigel Richards in Malaysia and therefore I
consider him an awesome talent. With an opening rack of AADIRRT, I
settle for ARDRI. Ganesh respondes with POLEAX. I immediately plunk
down GODETIA/POLEAXE for 79. Ganesh comes back with B(O)OMIEST for 74.
I manage to keep ahead with a string of reasonable scores. I have to
think long and hard in the end game as there is a blank out and there
are at least 2 bingo lanes which I have to block. As it happened
Ganesh didn't have a bingo. Won 387-322.

Ganesh mentioned later that he couldn't convince himself in the
mid-game that GAPOSIS was good.

Game 6 - Adam Logan

Five wins on the trot and I was rewarded with a game against Adam. I
was happy to make a game of it after being down by about a 100. Was
disappointed to see Adam play BRUNeTS as I had DUVETI(NE)S lined up.
Missing VITREUMS was inexcusable and missing INVITEES next go was
dreadful. Although I feel TENSIVE at b1a was second best given the
remaining tiles. (Yes I believe it is superior to SIRVENTE, SERVIENT,
TENSIVE at n2d etc given the remaining tiles and given who I am up
against). JAG was a desperation play.....

Game 7 - Russell Byers

Russell opened the game with ZONULETS thru the L of my HILLO but I
came back soon with PREDAWN/HILLOA for 78. Russell then got ERUCTEd
mid-game but I was still ahead with plays like GADDI and GAMEY for
reasonable scores. Unfortunately for me, Russell's penultimate moves
were COMPILEd and RETINOLS for 69 and 62. Ouch. I thought I did well
to limit the damage given his 4 bonuses to my 1. Lost 404-432.

Game 8 - John Tabasa

I think this was John's first WSC but knew he wouldn't be an easy beat
as he'd managed to qualify ahead of well known players from the
Philippines like Odette Rio & Ronald Credo. Three losses in a row was
on the cards once John had played REGgAEs for 79 with both blanks. I
was still trailing after I'd played ANTEDA(T)E as John had got JUNIOR
for 48 onto the triple lane. Here is the board set up:

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o
01|= ' = ' =|
02| - " " - |
03| - ' ' - J|
04|B - ' - U|
05|E R E G g A E S N N|
06|A Z O T E " G " I " I|
07|T M I M E ' G U R O|
08|H ' Y E S ' L A R|
09| ' ' R ' O ' N |
10| " " Q I U H T |
11| - P I L A E |
12|' A I ' L - D '|
13| F L U X ' ' E - A |
14| - O Y W R O O T |
15|= W = D I E B|

John has just played NIRL for 8 points to block the last possible
bingo lane and scores are 292-243 in John's favour.


What do I play?
I play ACCEDE at f2d for 37 and follow up with FAKE at g15a for 38 to
get myself back into the game. John was unlucky to have a consonant
heavy last rack and I managed to eke out a win. Won 355-351.

I ended the day on 6-2 and was quite satisfied with my performance as
I thought the game against Russell was beyond me and felt I had stolen
the game from John. At the time I felt that Adam's game was beyond me
as well but in hindsight VITREUMS might have changed things....

End of Day 1

More to come.....hopefully...

Naween F



Day 2

Game 9 - Nigel Richards

Nigel opened with SEALGH and I immediately replied with BELIPRT (1)
which Nigel held for about 5 seconds. Nigel then had consecutive
bingos of VOIDABLE and the lovely PUTAMINA to go into the lead.

I now held CYGN?TS but unfortunately there was no place for it to go
down. So I play SEALGHS/SYNC for 24. I caught up next go with
GLUTaEi/aVOIDABLE (yes 2 blanks) but Nigel got away again with

I was lucky to scored heavily with ZED for 41 and FLIX for 62 to put
me back in contention. Our board position is now as follows:

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o
01|G ' = ' =|
02|O - " " Q |
03|W Z E D ' G L U T a E i |
04|D R O S E R A ' V '|
05|E Y O W I E J O |
06|R " V " O I " |
07| ' P E ' S ' E D ' |
08|= ' U N E A H O|
09| ' T P A R T I B L E |
10| " A " L " F L I X |
11| M G - E |
12|' F I T C H - '|
13| - N A ' S Y N C - |
14| - A B " - |
15|= ' U = ' =|

Scores: Me 375
Nigel 405

Unseen tiles: DEEINNORT

My rack : ROUTINS (its my turn)

What should I play?

Nigel had just played HO for 28 at n8a.

I spend quite a bit of time on this move as there are no heavy
scoring spots apart from URINOUS for 21 at 15f but I can't really
see myself winning the game after leaving 1 tile in the bag.

I decide to play RUG at h1 just to get Nigel thinking as well....

Scores are now 405-387 in Nigel's favour. From his perspective
unseen tiles are AAAIIIIKMNNOST.

Nigel's rack is ERODENT.

Now assuming he has done all the math, I cannot bingo at b6 as there
are no E's left. There is a high probability of me getting a bonus
through the R of my RUG but he should be able to hold on to win with
ERODENT at b6d if this about 1 point in a worst case
scenario by my calculations.

There are 3 possible bingos through the U - UNIONISM, UNIONIST and
UNITIONS all of which would lose the game for Nigel but what are the
chances with 3 A's unseen right?

Nigel plays ERODENT at b6d for 66. Scores are now 471-387 in Nigel's

I play out with UNITIONS for 77 to win 477-458.

Its probably a very close call between ERODENT, UNDOER at f15a and
ROUEN at f2a.

The problem with UNDOER is that if I bingo through the R of RUG, it
would be a dog fight at the end and the player with the better tile
distribution would win. Also, if I don't bingo immediately, the 2
tiles left in the bag allow me to open another bingo lane.

The problem with ROUEN is that it still leaves f15a unblocked
although this is probably the safest move.

In conclusion, Nigel was unlucky that I had just the right tiles to
bingo through the U at f15a.

Game 10 - David Boys

Just when I thought I'd get a break after facing off with Nigel, I'm
paired with David Boys.

I begin the game with JETON for 40 but David comes back with
consecutive bonuses of FATNeSS and REt(E)AMED for 76 and 90. We both
then challenge off each of our phoneys, David's BIST* and my
AUR(E)ATED* (there was no place for AURATED to go down).

I play catch up once again, draw 5 points on VINING (which I wasn't
100% on as well) and this game turns into an end-game nightmare for
David. He opens up the board with ALLEE setting up the S hook with
his last S (which appeared to be a brilliant setup and which I was
oblivious to at the time) but unfortunately for him I was able to
play YAQONA for 40 through the A and seal the win. Won 399-385

At this stage I commented to someone that I was having an incredible
number of close tussles against some high class opposition. Little
did I know, there was more to come...

Game 11- Helen Gipson

My first game of the tournament that I had some serious goodies. I
get FOLATES, NAsTIER (yes RETAIN+?)!! and PILEOUS (including 5
points) - Helen had to challenge it as she might have had a chance
of winning if it came off. Helen gets a late TINCTEd for 88 to
reduce the damage. Won 458-369.

Game 12 - Paul Cleary

I bingo early with TRILOBE but Paul stays in touch with some high
scoring. I have DOPANTS blocked on a tight board and then the
carnage begins after I give Paul an opening. He gets TEApOYS for 66
and follows it up with ZOOTY for 81 and I'm down 214-346. However my
risk of opening up another triple lane pays off with REEFIEST for
158 and I'm now in lead.

However there is a blank out on a very open board. I try and block
as much as I can but Paul finds REDATiNG onto a G for 88 (which I
challenge in desperation. In hindsight, leaving the board open and
going for score might have made the game a lot closer but difficult
to see myself winning that one. Kudos to Paul for surviving a 158
point 9 timer. Lost 450-494

Game 13 - Gerald Carter

Gerry opens with VITEX and I play FREEB(I)Es for 70 instead of
FRE(E)BEEs for 100+ - doh! Its a close tussle all the way and we
trade late bingos of TANGEN(C)E from me and SNARLeD from Gerry.

With a rack of AIIIORU I'm forced to try the phoney DIVERGER*/RIA
for 26 points on my penultimate rack. After some thought Gerry lets
it go as a 5 point penalty could easily lose him the game. Gerry
then extends DA to the classy CAUDAL for 27 and trails by 2 points
(which explains why he had to let RIA go).

I'm left with a last rack of FOINIOU - the F provides enough
firepower for me to hold on to win - a game which I probably didn't
deserve to win. Won 406-393

Game 14 - John O'Laughlin

John opened with QUIRk for 46 and I was worried he had the other
blank. He didn't. I got an early PENU(R)IES and John replied with
V(I)NTAGES. I went into the lead with EDEmATA for 91 but John clawed
his way back into the game with some reasonable scores. This game
was another one of those very tight endgame tussles which could have
gone either way. Won 418-416.

Game 15 - Pakorn Nemitrmansuk

Pakorn opens his account first move with PODGiER and I give him an
extra 5 points because I'm feeling generous. I play THELF for 15 but
would have played HALFEN for a bit more if I'd known it. Pakorn gets
INTERV(A)L through the A of my ENTASIA and I follow up with
UPST(A)RED to draw level. We both get late bingos – Pakorn gets
SESTINA and I get R(E)INvOKE but Pakorn's last rack is too strong
for me to threaten a close endgame. Lost 413–439

Game 16 – Joel Sherman

Joel changes first go and then plonks down PUnITOR(Y). Two moves
later I get MANG(R)OVE. I maintain a healthy lead till Joel finds
the excellent B(A)NIS(T)ERS through a floating A and T - the only
bingo available. Again I pull ahead with some high scoring but Joel
gets a third bingo REFLOAT and is now ahead. I challenge Joel's
WHILED.....surely you can't put a D on a conjunction....and give
Joel 5 points mid-game. Lakshan and Harshan remind me later that it
is a verb as well - doh!

Going into the endgame this is the situation:

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o
01|= ' C A N O P Y J|
02| - " " U - O|
03| - ' W R A n G N|
04|' - M I E|
05| - B A N I S T E R S|
06| " G A N O F O " |
07| ' Q I ' G ' R ' |
08|= V I E R U D D Y =|
09| ' ' O ' ' |
10| " " V " " |
11| C U L E T - |
12|' - A S E A - '|
13| - P A X W H I L E D |
14| L U N E T " I T|
15|Z O ' R E F L O A T ' B I|


Joel: 402
Me : 343


Its my turn, what do I play?

I'm thinking my only bingo options are in the n column and I've got
a chance of a bingo on the 2nd row if I pick up an H although that
is remote. I'm thinking I have to open up the board with another
bingo option. I think of OuTVIE but that empties the bag and uses up
the blank.

I settle for MOVIE at b8a for 10 points. From memory Joel had about
a minute to do the math on his endgame (I played reasonably fast
through out this game). He opts for NEK at b7a for 27.

My final rack is DEHIRT? and looks promising. I play T(R)IHEDRa at
n4d for 67 to win by 1.

Interestingly we figured after the game that if Joel had enough time
and if he had played ANK(L)ES at l10d, that would have won him the
game despite me getting THyRE(O)ID on the C column through the O of
MOVIE. I was quite impressed with Joel's demeanor after the game
which was so closely fought - I would have been shattered if my
challenging the silly WHILED had cost me the game. Won 425-424

Game 17 - Panupol Sujjayakorn

Last game of the day and I'm paired with the reigning World
Champion. Luckily for me I had all the luck early in the game with
three bonuses in a row IGNORAN(T), (I)NTERBEd and ENAMELS. Panupol
had scores of 61 and 60 for YEX and ZOBOS and a late bonus of
PREEdIT, while I lost a turn with NUDISH but got away with NAWS* but
I was far enough ahead to hold on to a comfortable win. Won 478-381.

End of Day 2.....

Day 3 Finally...

Game 18 – Akshay Bhandarkar

The last time me and Akshay probably played each other was possibly
in the mid 90's where we both we finishing high school in Bahrain.
We both were therefore excited about having a game with each other
once again on the world stage.

With an opening rack of GRANDAN, I opted for GRAND at d8a. Next
move, with a rack of ACENLSS, I used the K of Akshay's NOOK to make
SLAC(K)ENS/GRANDE for 79 including 5 points for GRANDE. I lost a
turn mid-game with the now obsolete CROMBIE(S)* but fortunately it
was not blocked I played the natural MICROBE(S) next turn.

Akshay had ONETImE for 70 and while I maintained a small lead going
into the end-game, a blank was still out and threatening. With 1
tile left in the bag, Akshay played JOUAlS for 30 hoping for an out
in 2. Fortunately for me, his last tiles were UI and there was only
one place to go out which I managed to block. A post-mortem revealed
that a play of JUS (keeping the blank) instead of JOUAls, increased
the chances of a win for Akshay depending on what he picked up from
the bag. Won 371-345

Game 19 - Peter Armstrong

I was glad to see Peter change first move as this enabled me to open
with INHABIT for 82. Peter responded immediately with ANDIRO(N)S for
72. I did not challenge the phoney KYAN*, chickened out of ALGINATE
for some unknown reason (AGENTIAL was not playable) and the scores
were close at this stage.

My poor play, was then somehow rewarded with 3 bingos in 4 moves –
DOT(T)EREl for 68, TRAMP(L)ED for 76 and pERSI(C)OT for 145
(includes 5 points). This was by far my biggest victory of the
tournament. Won 638-324

Game 20 – Paul Allan

I was due for a drubbing at some stage, and unfortunately it came in
Game 20 at the hands of Paul Allan. Paul had bingos of NEUTROn for
67 and JOsTLED for 89 on moved 2 and 3 including LAIRY for 63 (for
which I gave him an extra 5 points as well) next go and I never
quite recovered after that.

Going into the end game I challenged of Paul's GINNI* and gave
myself a chance, opening up the board with VITAL hoping to pick up
an A (and also hoping Paul did not have an A). Unfortunately for me
Paul did have an A as well and my possible out play of
TRIAGED/AVITAL was blocked by Paul. Lost 317-428.

Game 21 – Dave Wiegand

Dave started the game with OF for 10 point which looked threatening.
He got MARTELS on move 3 for 79 and I gave him 5 points foolishly.
Holding EEEINUX, I used his M to play UNMIX for 66 not seeing
EUXENITE for 82 through the T, although UNMIX for 66 (holding 3 E's)
appears to be the better play here as EUXENITE exposes the double
word square next to it.

Dave extends UNMIX to UNMIXING for 54 and with a rack of BEEENIS I
get down EBENIS(T)E for 72 (which also exposes the double word
square but is less dangerous).

Holding DDIOTU?, I miss TUrDOID and play OUTDID instead. I get
GALLOpER for 82 (including 5 points) later on and Dave gets MADRONE
for 68. With not many tiles to come, Dave is now a bingo behind and
has to open up the board and opens up for a possible 9 time with a U
in the 5th position. Its my turn, there are 8 tiles remaining and
they are AHINNRT?. I can't see any possible 9 timers so I block an
alternative bingo lane. Dave tries ANTH(U)RIa* as he knows ANTHURIUM
is good but I know the former is not and it comes off. Won 501-354.

Game 22 – Adam Logan

All I have to do is win 2 of the 3 remaining games to make the
finals. Easy…

I start writing down my racks and then I realize, hang on I'm on
table 1 and its all being annotated – doh.

The first few racks were reasonably straight forward – had to think
a bit about playing XI for 29 or AX for 52 keeping multiple I's. My
gamble paid off with DERATING next go. FOOTSIE/DERATINGS was
probably slightly better than Adam's FOOTIES.

Also my JO/OP for 26 has got to be inferior to say JORS/SWADDY at
a1a. All I had in mind at this stage of the game was blocking up the
board. Challenging GERBE was silly – I knew GREBE and should have
known it had an anagram..

ALURE would have lost if the F was in the bag but it was a gamble I
thought I had to take. Adam held ALURE for sometime before playing
NOOP and I had just over 2 minutes to stuff up my endgame which I
did. For some reason I never looked at my options on the "A" column,
(instead was more focused on Adam's options) - ABOHM or MOOLAH would
have easily won it for me….no wait any play on the A column would
have won me the game. I picked the worst possible moment to stuff up
my end-game and I realised at the time that making it to the finals
was now going to be a lot harder….

Game 23

The wheels started to fall apart this game when I began to draw drek
towards the end of the game – not challenging CLIT* was of course a
major error but I couldn't see myself doing much even if it did come
off with the tiles I had at the time.

Also with my AEGMRST rack I should have played of the E and G hoping
to draw ? & I with 4 tiles unseen i.e. I should have fished for
SITzMARK at a4a (which did occur to me at the time). I did not go
ahead with this option as it was easily blockable as well.

Also, I had no idea that Pakorn did not have the blank and I was
getting concerned with my spread (as I still could make the finals
even if I lost this game). I made a spate of mistakes at the end of
this game as I was feeling quite demoralised having got this far.

Game 24

Still an outside chance of making the finals, but I was somehow
feeling very focused now - but mixed emotions - maybe even a bit
angry with myself - I was pumped.

Ganesh opens with CHIME and holding EFOPRTU I plonk down
POUFTER/CHIMER and am rewarded with an extra 10 points as Ganesh
challenges both words. Not to be outdone, Ganesh replies with
MUT(I)NEER for 64.

Holding EEIIKV?, I'm licking my lips seeing an open L spot
(VISELIKE) but alas Ganesh blocks this opening and to add insult to
injury goes on to play consecutive bingos of DOPANTS and GARROTE for
85 and 66 respectively. I'm now trailing Ganesh by a bit but
fortunately I still hold a blank and decide to open up the board
with CAU(K) for 20. I'm rewarded with IN(C)ISORs for 72 and surprise
surprise we go into a titanic endgame battle as follows:

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o
01|= ' = Y A N G|
02| I " P " D O - |
03| N - ' O O W - |
04|' C A U K G U P E G '|
05|Q I E M O F A A |
06|I S X U A T " N R " |
07| O ' T ' E T R |
08|= R C H I M E R A S ' O =|
09| s ' N ' ' L T |
10| " E B A L E " |
11| F U N D E D A B O |
12|' H A I R E D O S '|
13| - ' I ' I T - |
14| - V I V E " L - |
15|= ' E ' =|

Ganesh's rack: EILRW?

My Score : 383
Ganesh's score: 379

Ganesh has just played YANG for 24 at l1a. What do I do? From memory
we both roughly had just over 5 minutes on our clocks.

My first thought is to block W(I)LiER at a2a but I've got to figure
out if Ganesh has an out spots on the n column - I can't see

It appears that JIZ is a clear winning play at a2c (I could be wrong
though). Ganesh is then forced to block my ZEAS at c2d and I'm then
able to offload my Y at k2a with DOTY (if Ganesh plays ZEAs for 39)
for a win. If Ganesh only plays ZEA for 28, then I have to block his
out play of sWIRL at n10d with something like STYE at n10d to hold
on to win.

But I didn't play JIZ as I didn't have time or rather the presence
of mind with so much in the balance to figure all this out.

Instead I played NYAS at c2d for 38 keeping JETZ on my rack. After
what seemed like an eternity Ganesh plays LITE at j13a for 8 points
(to block the threat of ZITE at j13a). At this stage Ganesh had
about 30 seconds left on his clock. Scores are now 421-387 in my

The board now looks like this:

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o
01|= ' = Y A N G|
02| I N " P " D O - |
03| N Y ' O O W - |
04|' C A U K G U P E G '|
05|Q I S E M O F A A |
06|I S X U A T " N R " |
07| O ' T ' E T R |
08|= R C H I M E R A S ' O =|
09| s ' N ' ' L T |
10| " E B A L E " |
11| F U N D E D A B O |
12|' H A I R E D O S '|
13| - ' I ' L I T E |
14| - V I V E " L - |
15|= ' E ' =|

With JETZ, I have less than a minute on my clock and I decide to
play ZINE for 13 at a2d assuming that Ganesh will go out with WIRe
at n8d for 24 which he did. Once the dust had settled, Ganesh
actually thought for a moment that he had won (there were no
miscounts) but I had pulled it off by 5 points.

A number of endgame mistakes:

1)NYAS at c2d was a major mistake. It would have lost to L(I)E/DELI
at g13a for 14 points(which does a great job of blocking the ZITE
play) by one point assuming the same endgame as above.

2)ZINE at a2a was also a mistake. It would have lost to DOW/AW at
m2a, aABOs/GARROTEs at m11, HI/IN at e8d and BALER at j10a. ZIN
should have been the correct play for a guaranteed win by 2 if
Ganesh went out or if Ganesh decided to play cat-and-mouse the "E"
and "T" would have been just enough to win.

At the time Ganesh commented that NYAS was a brilliant play but alas
it appeared that I had a much safer winning combo of JIZ and there
may be other plays which I cannot see...And what if I hadn't got the
10 points on CHIMER/POUFTER....then perhaps even JIZ might not have
been enough - who knows - I'm done simming this game.

Won 425-420.

I just slumped at the end of this game as we both had really given
it our best - it certainly wasn't a perfect endgame by any means but
the adrenaline rush during the last few minutes of this game was

Somehow I wasn't going to run around to Pakorn's game to see who
won - maybe I secretly knew I was out of the finals.

Of course I was disappointed coming 3rd at the time but the more I
think of it now, the happier I am, with my 3rd place finish.

Jeez I never thought I'd get this done....oh and if you've read this
far and can make sense of all the above in Game 24 - as I haven't
gone into too much detail in some areas - then well done.


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